Read this if you don’t want to get hit by a bus in Madrid…and other useful factsMadrid, Fall 2011
So one of my professors had us come up with a list of useful knowledge to know while traveling/ living in Spain. Here are some facts I find very helpful:
-Spanish drivers are always in a hurry. Be sure to pay attention when crossing the street because they come zooming by. I was almost hit by a car last week when in the crosswalk- and the driver did not pay attention to the fact that the pedestrian light was on.
-Get the Abono student pass, and buy the monthly metro ticket. It is definitely worth the 30 euros per month, and comes in handy for traveling places too far to walk to. The Metro runs from 6:30 in the morning to 1:30a.m. the net day. If you find that you are out past Metro hours and need a ride I am told you can take a bus called a Buho which departs from Plaza de Cibeles and runs from 3:30 a.m. until the Metro opens again. I haven’t had to take one of these yet. But if all else fails, taxis are the best way to get home after hours.
-Ignore unwanted attention from men on the streets. Spanish men are very forward.
-Don’t carry more than one credit or debit card on you at all times. Also don’t carry more than 100 euros in your wallet. It is smart to keep at least 100 euros hidden in your room as well for emergencies. In addition, rather than carrying your actual passport with you, assuming you are not traveling, carry a copy of your passport and visa. Last week one of my friends forgot her wallet in the taxi. Unfortunately she had both credit cards in it, along with her cash. Luckily she was able to cancel all her cards before anyone could use them, and she also had an emergency stash of money in her room.
-Wear comfortable shoes at all times. I think I walk an average of around 7-10 miles a day.
-Bring your own grocery bags when you go shopping. There is a small fee if you have to use a bag at the store. You can typically find cheap, reusable grocery bags at dollar stores nearby.
-Plan ahead for meals on festival days. Grocery stores are not typically open.
-It is smart to carry a water bottle with you at all times. It is easy to get dehydrated and much cheaper to refill one in the faucet. Tap water in Spain is really good, so you don’t have to worry about getting sick. Also on the topic of water, when at a restaurant if you just say “agua” they will bring you a water bottle and charge you. However if you say “agua de grifo” they will bring you tap water, which is free.
-Bring your student I.D. card from home, I have saved a significant amount of money by getting student discounts, because most places accept my I.D. card from Redlands.
-Take advantage of the inexpensive produce stands. I go to the fruit stand at least twice a week. The guy who works there already recognizes me. Spain has some of the best fruit I have ever had in my life!
-Mornings and nights can get a little chilly, so it is wise to have a light jacket with you just in case.
-Mixed drinks are pricey, and very strong!
-During the hours of siesta each day, which is about 2-5 p.m., many stores will be closed. I have found that most grocery and convenient stores are open.
-On Sundays a majority of the shops are closed, so if you need anything, especially groceries go to SOL where everything is always open.
-Take advantage of cheap travel. Stay in hostels to stretch your money further. While hostels are typically not as nice as hotels, the way I see it is you only need them to sleep in, as you will most likely spend most of your day out exploring.
-Go get hot chocolate and churros!
-Be confident when you speak Spanish. You are still learning, and the only way to improve your ability to speak is to speak often without letting your fear of making mistakes or sounding like an idiot get in your way. Ever since our compañera moved into our apartment I have been speaking more and more Spanish and have already seen huge improvement! I am normally the type of person who will write out what I need to say in Spanish first so I know I am grammatical, so just speaking off my feet has been quite a challenge. But now I see that I must make those mistakes in order to become fluent.
-You can talk to IES administration about anything. They are very kind and always willing to help.
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